APPLICATION OF FORMAL PARAMETERS EXPERIENCE OF AN EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY AS PART OF A RESEARCH PROJECT
Politecnico Di MIlano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This paper will describe and argue an example of integration between theoretical design research and educational activity based on practical experience. The aim is to show, on one hand, how students’ work can be part of a research project covering some steps of the research process and, on the other hand, how the research results can be implemented in teaching purposes. This second issue will be considered more deeply through the description of the four educational exercises developed from the doctoral research “Designing emotions through industrial products features” by Roberta Gorno (defended on February 2011) and the final master thesis “Design, percezione ed emozione. La forma come veicolo di significati” by Sara Colombo (defended on December 2010).
The aim of these researches was to identify possible connections between formal settings of products and the association with perceived ‘characters’. The term product character, or product personality, was intended here as “a unity of characteristics. That is, one character combines several characteristics, not as a simple collection, but with related characteristics integrated into a relatively coherent whole” (Janlert & Stolterman, 1997).
One of the results was the development of a set of formats (guidelines), which connect the character of a pen (for instance “professional”, “playful”, etc.) to a synthesis of formal features represented through qualitative parameters (for instance “proportions”, “balance”, etc.).
These results were introduced in the educational activity with a double aim: to extract data about the effectiveness of the formats proposed (research aim) and to furnish students some tools to critically evaluate and to define the formal features of an object (educational aim).
The effectiveness refers both to the fact that the hypothesis corresponded to the thesis (there is a stable relation between the character of an object and its formal features) and to the practical aim (the formats can be used as design tools when defining the formal features of an object).
The formats proved to be useful for the students at several levels: firstly to design the character of a product basing their work on the quality of the formal features, secondly to look at products with more attention and critical judgment of the formal aspects, thirdly to understand how influential is any slight change into a product’s feature (for instance the ration between height and depth) to its whole look.
The effectiveness of these formats was tested and implemented through the exercises presented in this paper. It was indeed decided to transfer the theoretical results of the research to the students through practical exercises following the pedagogical approach of “learning by doing” which applies very well to education in the field of design.
The four exercises will be described showing their potentiality as educational tools for product design teachers and results will be critically discussed.
Keywords: Education, research, design tool, formal features.